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Chamber hosts 2019 Chairman’s Awards Banquet

Pictured are the 2019 Chairman’s Reception award winners. (L-R): John Lowrance-Kiwanis Club, Reba Celsor, Edie Thompson-NSK, Ann Lovell-First South Financial Credit Union, Amy Creswell, and Tommy Allmon.


On Saturday, February 8, hundreds of business professionals joined state, city and county officials at the 2019 Chairman’s Awards Banquet, hosted by the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce.

Opening the banquet, Chamber President Slater Barr welcomed distinguished guests in the mayors of Newbern, Dyer County and Dyersburg, followed by a moment of prayer led by newly elected State Rep. Rusty Grills.

This year’s guest speaker was decorated veteran and motivational speaker, Elizabeth McCormick.

State Gazette photos/ Rachel Townsend

Guests were treated to dinner catered by Lupo’s Italian Steakhouse, while enjoying a presentation made by this year’s guest speaker, Elizabeth McCormick, a decorated U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot who flew air assault, command and control, top-secret intelligence missions, and transported high-level government VIPs.

McCormick transitioned from the military to corporate management with a business background, which includes being an international contract negotiator. She is also a commodity manager in purchasing and supply chain for global corporations.

McCormick delivered a powerful speech on leadership, encouraging others to take charge of their lives.

Introducing this year’s winners was Chair-Elect Jennifer Nunley, assisted by 2018 Diplomat of the Year Chris Wilson.

Welcoming guests to the 2019 Chairman’s Awards Banquet was Chairman President Slater Barr (above). Introducing this year’s winners was Membership Chair Jennifer Nunley (below).

The Small Business of the Year award was presented to First South Financial Credit Union.

“This company started its humble beginnings in the 1950s and today is nationally recognized as being one of the strongest and safest institutions in their business sector,” said Nunley. “Growth percentages continue to outperform industry standards with overall customer satisfaction ratings of 3.95% or higher on a 4.0 scale.

“With just 7 full-time employees, our small-business winner takes pride in giving back to our community by allowing staff to be actively involved through Adopt-A-School at Finley Elementary, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), Relay for Life, Angel Tree Program, Dyer County Humane Society, local law enforcement fundraisers, Rotary Club, Dyersburg State, Life Choices Life Maze, and the Chamber Diplomat Program and a host of other civic and professional organizations as well.”

Winning the award for Large Business of the Year was NSK Steering.

“Our large business winner’s mission is to contribute to a safer, smoother society and helps to protect the global environment through its innovative technology and works across national boundaries to improve relationships between people throughout the world,” said Nunley. “With the realizations that a more prosperous society is needed to ensure its future, sustainable development goals were established to contribute more to the environment and society.

“With over 500+ employees, this company lives up to its mission through various civic and community affiliations including Northview Middle School STEM Sponsor, Matthew 25:40, Local Food Bank, United Way, sponsor for both the Dyersburg and Dyer County School System, Dyer County Community Cancer Fund, American Red Cross, Dyer County Adult Leadership Mural Project, and is an active member of our Chamber, Toyota Bluegrass Automotive Manufacturing of America and Honda Lean. In addition, they have been awarded the Superior Launch Performance Award for the Toyota Avalon, United Way Campaign of Excellence, and the Pratt Environment Award.”

The Non-profit Organization of the Year award was presented to the Dyersburg Kiwanis Club

“Mohammad Ali once said, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth’ and it can go without saying, this non-profit organization has paid a lot of rent!” said Nunley.

“Locally established in the 1930s, this organization and its volunteers strive in cooperation with our community to help children realize not only their value as an individual but that of their community. Through their mission and goals, they continually strive to help our schools, charitable and service organizations, including the private sector, to support efforts in improving the world we live in one child and one community at a time.

“With over 65 active-member volunteers, this group works tirelessly, donates thousands of volunteer hours, facilitates multiple fundraising efforts and sponsorship opportunities that benefit the Scouts, Dyer County Spelling Bee, Outstanding Junior Boy and Girl, at Dyersburg High, student attendance at both the Key Leader Program and American Legion Boys and Girls State Leadership program … to name a few!

“In the last several years, achievements include raising over $145,000 to help feed over 2,300 families right here in Dyer County; $200,000 to assist organizations such as McIver’s Grant Public Library, Reelfoot Lake Ministries, Life Choices, New Life Union Mission, and Kiwanis Park; over $7,000 annual to assist with additional programs that include Terrific Kids, Dyersburg State Scholarship Fund, scholarship funds to assist one graduating senior from both high schools, Imagination Library, Dixie Youth Baseball, American Cancer Society, Kaleidescope Summer youth Program, CASA, Dyer County Junior Auxiliary Journey Bags and the YMCA.”

Amy Creswell was recognized as the 2019-20 Emerging Leader.

“As a native of Dyer County, tonight’s recipient is actively involved with United Way of West Tennessee, GEN731, Dyer County Adult Leadership, Leadership Alumni, Dyer County Recycles, Dyer County Arts Council, local church ministry, and a former volunteer for Transitions of Dyersburg and Make a Wish Foundation,” stated Nunley.

“Local and regional leaders describe tonight’s winner as an individual with dedicated Christian values, strong moral and ethical convictions, highly respected by co-workers, and has an amazing ability to connect with people to harness the human capital that makes our area such a beautiful place to live. Our candidate recognizes the importance of fostering and retaining young people by developing leaders that want to create an awareness of products, services and lifestyle opportunities that will allow our community to grow. When asked about the motivation behind the drive, this was the answer:

‘Not only do I feel motivated to make a difference, but I believe I have a responsibility to make a difference. God calls us each to be a steward of the gifts and talents that He has given to us. This sense of stewardship is a resounding theme in my life story and purpose. I find great motivation and accomplishment in recognizing a need, envisioning a solution, and seeing it through to realization. This is something that I’m proud to do at work, at church, or in the community.’”

Reba Celsor was named the 2019-20 Distinguished Woman of the Year.

“The person we honor tonight calls Dyersburg her home after moving here several years ago,” introduced Nunley. “She has worked in her profession from an early age and is responsible for the daily management of local business operations that includes over 500 employees. Working tirelessly with a servant’s heart, she strives to find opportunities and solutions to make our community and region a better place to live and work.

“While enjoying recent growth and positive changes within her business climate, she continues to stay focused on how to maintain or improve opportunities for giving back to the community. Some of these opportunities include: Relay for Life, American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity, Community Cancer Fund, Dyer County Fair, United Way, March of Dimes, Salvation Army, HOSTS Mentoring Program … to name a few. Her civic involvement includes Dyersburg Breakfast Rotary, United Way Board, Dyersburg State Foundation, West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation, and the Chamber Board of Directors. She is also a graduate of the Dyer County Adult Leadership Class and UT Martin WestStar Regional Leadership Program.

“She is described by her peers and community leaders as a woman that is driven by the love of her profession and community, having the endurance to overcome adversity, exhibiting the utmost respect to the people she serves, and the talent to build, nurture and celebrate relationships.”

The Distinguished Man of the Year was presented to Tommy Allmon.

“A native of West Tennessee, tonight’s winner is committed to moving our community and its citizens forward in all aspects of life and believes ‘you get out what you put into it,’” said Nunley. “Having been recognized both regionally and nationally with numerous achievements and awards in his professional career, he continues to strive for greater opportunities within his community by giving selflessly to various organizations that include being an active member and former President of Dyersburg Kiwanis, serving on the McIver’s Grant Public Library Board and Foundation Board, United Way, Dyersburg State Alumni Board and Advisory Board for West TN Healthcare. In addition to his civic involvement, our winner’s local and regional leadership includes serving on the Chamber’s Board of Directors, former Chamber Diplomat, graduate of both the Dyer County Adult and UT Martin WestStar Leadership Programs.

“Community leaders and peers describe him as a man that’s humble, sincerely interested in promoting his community, and feels that there is no greater role than that of being a husband, father, and Christian.”

Sponsors of the event include: First Citizens National Bank, NSK Steering Systems, Tyson Foods, Dyersburg Electric Systems, Forcum Lannom Contractors, Security Bank, Burks Beverage/Broadcasting, Sparklight, First Community Bank, Eaton, Forcum Lannom Materials, Law Offices of Lannom Coronado Haight, Manpower, Simmons Bank and West Tennessee Healthcare.

Table sponsors include: Alexander Thompson Arnold CPA’s, C&C Pharmacy, City of Dyersburg, Cowart, Reese, and Sargent CPAs, Dot Foods, Dyer County Farm Bureau, Dyersburg City Schools, Dyersburg State Community College, Edward Jones, Ford Construction, Life Choices, Simmons Bank, and White and Associates Insurance Agency.